Since September 2022, Efectis has been performing research and development tests on aircraft containers for Inflight Canada. The containers are different from the containers Efectis has tested in the past (according to ISO 19281:2016 Air cargo — Fire resistant containers — Design, performance and testing requirements).
The containers, designed and manufactured by Inflight Canada, are made to fit through a passenger door of an aircraft. The hatches (doors) of a cargo aircraft are much larger than those of a passenger aircraft. Since the pandemic, many passenger aircrafts have remained grounded. Turning these aircrafts into cargo planes would allow the operator to put them to use in a different way. Apart from its size, the container’s smoke-handling properties are extremely important. The containers would be mounted in the cabin of the plane instead of the cargo area in the lower deck. This means that smoke could penetrate into the cockpit when present in the cabin.
The containers were tested for fire resistance (according to SAE AS8992:2020 – Fire Resistant Container Design, Performance, and Testing Requirements, similar to ISO 19281:2016) and smoke containment (according to FAA AC 25-9A:1994 – Smoke Detection, Penetration, and Evacuation Tests and Related Flight Manual Emergency Procedures) and passed both tests in the R&D phase.
Although this is not laid down in the standard, during the fire resistance tests pressure transducers were connected to the container to get an idea what pressures occur during the ignition of the fuel (cardboard boxes filled with 1.2 kg of shredded paper). More interesting data for Inflight to work with. An additional feature is the possibility to use a handheld aviation-grade extinguisher inside the container through a small entry point on the side. The test campaign is now optimising this feature.
When Inflight Canada has performed all the necessary R&D tests, both at Efectis and third parties, authorities will witness the tests for certification and tests will even be performed inside a flying aircraft.